Issue 143 - 03 | Networks Are Eating the World

By Barry Libert, Megan Beck, Jerry Wind
Published July 13, 2016 10:00 a.m.
“In the age of digital networks, businesses’ abilities to create and share intangible assets, such as ideas, software, and relationships that are owned by each of us—the Network—has grown exponentially. Further, digital networks allow organizations to access assets that exist outside of their traditional boundaries. Uber is a transportation company without cars. Airbnb is a hotelier without properties. Amazon is retailer with stores. Network orchestrators—as we call them—are eating the world as we know it, changing the very nature of industries around the world.

The key is their ability to reach and leverage each and every one of us and all our relationships, information and assets. This access to and relationship with us and what we have (cars and homes), do (labor) and know (relationships and expertise) are critical to their success—as are the digital platforms that they use to enable us to share what we have with others. In short, where Thomas Friedman wrote the book that laid the ground for this network revolution—The World is Flat—and Marc Andreessen followed on with his 2011 article—‘Software is Eating the World’—it is now clear that those were the foundation for today’s reality—networks are eating the world.

As Thomas Melville wrote, ‘We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us.’ Today’s digital networks are those fibers and the organizations that build and sustain will win big—bigger than we have every imagined.”

About Barry Libert, Megan Beck, Jerry Wind | Barry Libert is the CEO of OpenMatters and a Senior Fellow at the SEI Center at Wharton. Barry has spent the last 20 years researching business models. In addition, he is an active angel investor in social, mobile, and big data technology companies.

Megan Beck is a digital consultant at OpenMatters, an SEI researcher, and former management consultant at Bain & Company.

Jerry Wind is the Lauder Professor and Professor of Marketing at Wharton and Director of the Wharton “think tank,” the SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management. He has co-authored multiple books, including The Network Challenge, Competing in a Flat World, and The Power of Impossible Thinking.

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